Oxfordshire Getting Tough on Smoking
Oxfordshire has become the latest local authority to embrace vaping and is committing to promote electronic cigarette use to the county’s smokers. The news comes as the council released data to show that ecigs are the leading method its residents use in order to quit smoking.
The country council says that it is estimated that approximately 30% of smokers every year make a serious attempt to quit, but most are unsuccessful. On average, only 5% of those smokers making a quit attempt achieve success in stopping smoking.
Of those 5%:
- 2% quit through a Local Stop Smoking Service
- 8% get professional advice and use medication (i.e. nicotine patches)
- 14% use medication they bought over the counter at a pharmacy
- 35% succeed on their own without any help
- 41% use an electronic cigarette
Oxfordshire County Council currently commission a Local Stop Smoking Service, known as Smokefreelife Oxfordshire, to help smokers to quit. It states: “While the local trends of Local Stop Smoking Service are encouraging it must be remembered that the system needs to consider the 98% of smokers in the County who do not quit or access these types services in an attempt to quit smoking.”
Oxfordshire County Council says the impact of smoking includes the cost: “A smoker consuming a pack of twenty cigarettes a day will spend around £2,500 a year on their habit. The 54,804 residents in Oxfordshire who currently smoke spend approximately £73.7 million a year on tobacco products.”
It adds that smoking also causes a wider cost to society: “The ASH Ready Reckoner estimates the costs of smoking tobacco at a local level. For Oxfordshire, in 2019, the estimated costs to society was £121.7 million per year (£1.9 billion across the South East and £12.5 billion across England).”
This cost is accrued across a range of domains including:
- Productivity hit by absenteeism, smoking breaks, and early deaths
- Healthcare costs increased through hospital admissions and primary & ambulatory care
- Private and local authority social care costs
- Costs incurred through smoking-related house fires
Another rarely considered impact includes the cost of littering, the council states: “Tobacco usage has an environmental impact in our community. 62% of people drop litter and smoking materials constitute 35% of all street litter. Most cigarette filters are non-biodegradable and must be collected and disposed of in landfill sites. Smokers in Oxfordshire consume about 442,510 cigarettes every day! This results in approximately 64kg of waste daily from cigarettes. This represents around 23 tonnes of waste annually, of which 10 tonnes is collected by the Councils.”
Oxfordshire County Council has set some ambitious targets. By 2025 it aims to:
- Reduce the prevalence of smoking in the adult population to below 5% by 2025
- Reduce the prevalence of smoking in routine and manual workers to below 10%
- Reduce the prevalence of smoking in those with a serious mental illness to below 20%
- Reduce the prevalence of women who smoke at the time of delivery to below 4%
- Reduce the prevalence of smoking at age 15 below 3%
How is the council going to achieve its targets?
Oxfordshire is embracing vaping.
Following on from successes experienced elsewhere, such as in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, the council has committed itself to taking a common sense approach that includes evidence-based policies to the promotion and use of electronic cigarettes. It has also pledged to disseminate factual information to all smokers.
This is great news for smokers everywhere and ought to reassure ex-smoker who are currently vaping that they are doing the best thing.